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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 3:30pm

What is Sue and Settle?

"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process.  The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties.  These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.

As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups.  These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.

Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website

6/6/2016 CAA, Sierra Club
For failure to promulgate Federal Implementation Plan for Kentucky Good Neighbor provision
5/17/2016 CAA, Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Environmental Health, and the Clean Air Council
Deadline suit for failure to submit and failure to act on 2008 ozone attainment SIPs
4/27/2016 CAA, Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition, Inc
For failure to perform nondiscretionary duty under the CAA to respond to Petition filed on or about February 8, 2016, requesting that the Administrator object to the Title V operating permit for the Seneca Energy II, LLC, Ontario County Landfill Gas to Energy · Facility
4/27/2016 CAA, Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health
For failure to timely review, revise and promulgate the Air Quality Criteria for Sulfur Oxides and the NAAQS for Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides as may be appropriate
4/27/2016 CAA, Sierra Club, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles, WildEarth Guardians, and Center for Biological Diversity
For failure to perform non-discretionary duties related to the implementation of the 1997 NAAQS PM2.5 in the Los Angeles-South Coast Air Basin, CA nonattainment area
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html

What is New in Sue and Settle?

    June 2016

    See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive

    What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?

    Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases

    Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.

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